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Biotopo De Quetzal

In 1976, biologist Mario Dary Rivera decided to create the Quetzal Biotope in order to protect and study endangered plants and animals. At that time, he convinced the municipality of Salamá to donate part of its lands to his project. Nowadays, the Biotopo de Quetzal is one of the main natural reserves in Guatemala.

This 1,044-hectare (2,580 acres) site, situated about an hour from Cobán, is an ideal spot to fully enjoy the cloud-forest ecosystem. The reserve is also the obvious place to go if you want to observe Guatemala's national bird the quetzal. Even here, though, only lucky visitors will get a chance to catch a glimpse of the bird. For the best chance of seeing one, visit the reserve between March and June (when females lay their eggs), and wake up early.

The Biotopo has two major trails, both very well-maintained: Sendero los Helechos, which is 2km (1.2 miles) long, and Sendero los Musgos, which is twice as long. Walking through the humid atmosphere of the reserve, you will be able to observe several varieties of air plants (epiphytes, mosses, ferns, orchids...) and different species of animals, including spider monkeys. Both trails will lead you to waterfalls and small pools where swimming is allowed. If you go deep into the forest, you may find Xiu Gua Li Che, a 450 years-old tree.

Maps of the Biotopo are available for $0.75 at the Visitors Center, where both trails start. If you plan to camp in the reserve, stop by the Visitors Center to get information: camping is not always allowed (the center opens daily 7a.m.-4p.m.). The camping site also offers a barbecue area and a shop selling snacks and drinks.

Several accommodation options exist besides camping in the reserve. Several lodges are situated along the road just outside of the Biotopo. You can try the Hotel y Restaurante Ram Tzul. Situated in a private 150-hectares forest, it offers rooms in wooden cabins and private bathrooms (price per night starts at $40). The Hotel y Comedor Ranchito del Quetzal, located 200m (656 feet) away from the reserve's main entrance offers a choice of simple rooms and family bungalows, starting at $36 a night.

Entrance to the reserve is $2.50.


Other places nearby Biotopo De Quetzal: Cubulco, Playa Grande, Rabinal, Cancuén, Chisec, Sierra De Las Minas Biosphere Reserve , Parque Nacional Laguna Lachuá, Cobán, Purulhá and the Corredor Biológico del Bosque Nuboso and Río Ikbolay.

29 Jul 2010

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